Urgent: Black & Latinx Incarcerated women speak out, demanding answers & release after dangerous unexplained move to unlivable jail facilities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cara Tratner, Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, firstname.lastname@example.org, 610-529-1263
Malik Neal, Philadelphia Bail Fund, email@example.com, 267-650-4161
Black & Latinx Incarcerated women speak out, demanding answers & release after dangerous unexplained move to unlivable jail facilities
PHILADELPHIA, PA (August 26, 2020) – The Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, Philadelphia Bail Fund, Dignity Act Now Collective, and the #No215Jail Coalition are sharing audio recordings1 now from four brave women who asked us to share their stories widely because they want the public to know what they are being forced to endure.
On August 10, 2020, the Philadelphia Department of Prisons took the dangerous move of unexpectedly relocating over 100 cis women, trans people and gender non-conforming people held at Riverside Correctional Facility (RCF) to two different facilities with worse conditions, Mod 3 and Alternative Special Detention (ASD). Incarcerated women in these facilities describe deplorable conditions and the high risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a result of a rushed move in the midst of a pandemic. The women were given no warning of the move, leaving family members unaware of their whereabouts and unable to contact them.
“They put us everybody in a bus, no social distance. Everybody was together, handcuffed together. The whole bus was full, 2 in each seat,” shared one Latina single mother held on an unaffordable cash bail who is immunocompromised and has bronchitis and asthma, putting her at very high risk of COVID19 complications. “I’m at high risk here because of my health, anything could happen to me, I could die here. I have a 17 year old daughter who’s by herself out there. I’m in major depression, I can’t do this. They are ignoring me and I need to get out of here. My life is in danger, I need your help.”
The coalition has heard many similar reports describing ASD as “like a camp” with “no social distancing” whatsoever, with 4-5 people per cubicle and 40+ per unit. In one recording, a black woman incarcerated at ASD pleads, “Just let us out; let us go to our court dates. I just want them to know that everyone who is incarcerated should not be treated like an animal, a dog, or a slave. I cry all day.” Among those incarcerated in ASD are pregnant women who, according to others imprisoned with them, are not receiving even the most basic medical care.
The conditions in the other facility, Mod 3, are even more concerning. It was described by multiple people incarcerated there as “unliveable” and “like slavery”. Women have described mildew going on walls, insect infested cells, and unbearably hot temperatures inside.
“They don’t have no air, the showers don’t work, they don’t have nowhere you can wash your clothes at, they don’t have nowhere you can drink water at. We’re in our cells burning up,” a Black woman incarcerated at Mod 3 shared. “We don’t even have a hot meal, every meal that we eat is cold. The COs could do whatever they want to us because there are no cameras. We’re locked in 24/7. They need to release us because this is not a way of living, we could die from this place. This is crazy.”
She went on to describe fearing for her life when she got no medical attention, despite having COVID symptoms: “I had an asthma attack already and my temperature was up 101. I just want them to know if I pass away before I come home, I want my mom to know I love her, because I don’t think I’m gonna make it, because my asthma is crazy. I already had an asthma attack over here and they didn’t do anything, and I felt like I could die. They just splashed water on me from a hose, they didn’t do anything.”
People who tried to speak out about the conditions in the facility were punished by staff and deprived of any time out of their cells.
The #No215Jail coalition, Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, Philadelphia Bail Fund, and Dignity Act Now Collective demand answers and accountability, transparency and action. “We demand that the City of Philadelphia release everyone from ASD and Mod 3 now. We demand that the First Judicial District and the District Attorney stop caging people pretrial and that Mayor Kenney and the City of Philadelphia permanently #ShutDownDC. We believe the only way to safely close the Detention Center is releasing people, not putting the lives of cis women, trans people and gender non-conforming people at risk by moving them into worse conditions with no ability to socially distance in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”